History of Medicine

Throughout History
 People have had illness
 Tried to explain the cause of disease
 Sought cures for sicknesses
 General introduction to the history of
 An overview of the medical developments
and achievements throughout man’s history
 Help in choosing a subject for further study
and assignment
Periodization in History
20,000 – 4000 BC
4000 BC – 1500 BC
2000 BC – 100 AC
Egyptian Pharos
1700 BC – 100 AC
1200 BC – 100 AC
700 BC – 200 AC
Ancient Greece
50 BC – 45 AC
Roman empire
450 - 1453
Middle Ages – Islamic Era
1453 – 1900
1901- 1945
Pre-modern Age
1946 – 1999
Modern Age
2000 – 2013
21st century
 20,000 BC to 4000 BC
 Includes many old cultures
 Stone Age
 Bronze Age
 Iron Age
 Life span usually 25 to 40 years
 Very little evidence available
 Archaeological evidence
 No written records
Common Diseases
 Arthritis
 Infections after injury
 Gum disease
 Infected teeth (abscess)
 Other diseases ?
Causes of Disease
 Supernatural Causes:
 Evil spirits
 Angry ancestors
 Actual Causes:
 Less varied diets
 Malnutrition
 Cleanliness Issues
Cures & Medicine
 Herbs were commonly used
 Uses discovered by trial & error
 Natural oils
 Used snakeroot to calm patients
 Used foxglove to stimulate the heart
 Used fungus to stop bleeding
Cures & Medicine
 Medicine Man or Shaman
 Religious ceremonies to counter evil spirits
 Used charms, spells, and amulets
Major Accomplishments
 Use of clay to set broken bones
 Trepanning – primitive brain surgery
 Goals:
 Release evil spirits!
 ? after injury
Major Old Civilizations
 Around major rivers
 In Mesopotamia “Between Rivers”:
 This fertile land, tilled for 10,000 years, has been called
the cradle of civilization. . Here, about 5,000 years ago,
mankind attempted to develop a system of writing,
and built the world's first major cities
 3000 BC to 1500 BC
Causes of Disease
 Often blamed on spirits, ghosts, etc.
 Each spirit was responsible for a specific
body part
Major Accomplishments
 Babylonians introduced the concepts of
physical examination, and
medical prescriptions
Medical Men called “Ashipu”
 Means: “magician”
 Important tasks were:
 Diagnose the ailment
 Determined which god or demon was causing the illness
 Attempted to determine if the disease was the result of
some error or sin on the part of the patient
 Charms and spells were used to persuade out or drive out
the spirit causing the disease
Next, the Asu
 Specialist in herbal remedies
 Called "physician”
 Treating wounds
 he Asu generally relied on three fundamental
 washing, bandaging, and making plasters
 All three of these techniques of the Asu appear in the
world's oldest known medical document (c. 2100 BC)
The Oldest Medical Text
 written in a medical text on a
clay tablet (between 2158 to
2008 B.C)
 Three contributions still used
 Prescribes first washing the wound
or ill person,
 then applying plasters, and, finally,
 the use of bandages
Mesopotamian medicine
 Mixture of religion and
 An Ashipu combining
medicine, as represented by
the opium poppies to be
used in a drug mixture for his
patient, with religion, as
shown by the gazelle he will
sacrifice to the gods to win
favor for his patient
 Ashipu's made the appropriate bultu a mush
(porridge) made of herbs and other ingredients such
as mud and animal dung, that were pounded,
cooked, and strained
 Patients took these bultus by applying them
externally, taking them as an enema, swallowing
them, or inhaling their vapors
 Two bultus were never the same, as no record of
exact proportions of ingredients has been found.
 One list of 230 possible ingredients for bultus
included such imaginative items as lizard dung and
marrow of long bone
Law of Medicine in
 Hammurabi’s code of laws 1780 B.C.
 "if a physician performed a major
operation on a seignoir with a bronze
lancet and has saved the seignior's
life;... he shall receive 10 shekels of
 "if a physician performed a major
operation on a seignior with a bronze
lancet and has caused the seignor’s
death... they shall cut off his hand."
‫المؤمنون باهلل‬
 The Prophet Ibrahim (2000-1800 BC)